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Protocol for Specimen Submission

Guidelines for Submitting Specimens


The following specimen types may be submitted:

  • Serum drawn near admission with clots retained from red top tube
  • As late a serum as available
  • Convalescent serum drawn approximately 21 days after first specimen
  • Post-mortem heart blood

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Minimum volume: 1ml serum (2.5 ml preferred)
  • Serum samples must be shipped with a cold pack, or on dry ice in a plastic tube.
  • Clots and acute blood for virus isolation must be sent on dry ice in a plastic tube.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC)

The following types of formalin-fixed or paraffin-embedded tissues may be submitted:

  • Lung, kidney, and spleen tissues are preferred.
  • Other tissues that may be sent include lymph nodes, heart, pancreas, pituitary, brain, or liver.

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Paraffin blocks are preferred, particularly if death was not recent.
  • If paraffin blocks are not available, formalin-fixed tissues may be sent.
  • Ship paraffin blocks or formalin-fixed tissue at room temperature–do not freeze.
  • An autopsy or surgical report must accompany the specimen.

PCR/Virus Isolation

The following types of samples may be submitted:

  • Ante-mortem: You may submit biopsy material of the lung or bone marrow aspirate or clot.
  • Post-mortem: spleen, lung, kidney, liver, lymph nodes, heart, pancreas, pituitary, brain, or liver tissue, or heart blood.

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Clots must be sent on dry ice in a plastic tube.
  • Tissues should be at least 1cm3.
  • Buffy coat and fresh tissues must be shipped on dry ice.


  1. NO specimens accepted without prior consultation. Call for mailing address ((404) 639-1510 or (404) 639-1115).
  2. Send specimens by overnight courier (Federal Express preferred) and fax airway bill number and packing list to VSPB at (404) 639-1509 or (404) 639-1118. International submitter should consider direct shipment with an airline to expedite arrival at CDC.
  3. Do not freeze glass tubes.
  4. Package in accordance with the International Air Transport Association (I.A.T.A.) regulations to prevent leakage.
  5. Label sample as diagnostic specimen and include the following information: your name, the patient’s name, test(s) requested, date of collection, laboratory or accession number, and the type of specimen being shipped, a specimen submission form, and a case report form (for hantavirus testing only). On the outside of the box, specify how the specimen should be stored: refrigerated, frozen, or do not refrigerate.
  6. Subsequent shipments from outbreaks may require U.S. Public Health Service permits.

Case Report/Specimen Submission Forms

Fill out the following forms and submit them with your specimens. Forms are also available by calling (404) 639-1510.

Call VSPB at (404) 639-1510 to obtain specific shipping information and to notify us that a specimen will arrive for testing.

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